Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has been named U.S. Ambassador to China after an 83-13 Senate vote, making him the fifth confirmed ambassador of the Trump administration. In his new role, Branstad will assume responsibility for creating a positive diplomatic relationship between the Untied States and China, with far reaching implications in areas such as national security and trade.
Branstad has maintained a longstanding relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping that dates back to 1985 when Branstad hosted Jinping during his first term as Iowa Governor in a sister-state exchange program. The two have been known to call each other “old friends” and have continued to strengthen their relationship over the previous decade, between multiple visits.
Many hope that Branstad’s new post will mark a new era in U.S.–Chinese relations, particularly on the topic of agricultural trade. In his role as Governor of agriculture-rich Iowa, Branstad became familiar with the diverse needs of American farmers and the growing potential consumer base for American produce, meats and vegetables in China’s expanding middle class. The U.S. poultry industry, amongst the many U.S. agriculture markets looking to make greater inroads into China, is hoping that Branstad will continue progress made following the May 11th announcement from the Trump administration that China will now be allowed to export cooked poultry into the U.S.